3 Easy Ways to Start a Family Garden

Looking for a fun spring project that involves the entire family?

Do your kids like to spend time outdoors?

Then start a garden!

Gardening is a great outdoor activity with an abundance of benefits.

In this article I’ll show you three easy methods for starting a garden with your kids this spring.

Looking for a fun spring project that involves the entire family? Discover 3 easy methods for starting a family garden with your kids this spring.

Why Garden With Your Kids?

Gardening is an easy and fun outdoor spring activity that gives kids and parents a free pass to play outside in the dirt. It’s also an excellent way to teach children about organic food, composting and where food comes from.

Plus, gardening can also serve as a great lesson about patience and delayed gratification!

Whether you’re a seasoned or amateur gardener, you’ll enjoy spending time outdoors with your family. You’ll get your hands dirty and create terrific memories, especially when you harvest the fruits of your labor.

harvest bucket

Gardening also teaches patience! You and your kids have to wait for the harvest.

Getting Started

The first thing anyone planting a garden has to do is decide what to plant. There are two things to consider: What food does your family like to eat? How much gardening space do you have available?

For example:

  • If you have a patio and enjoy cooking, consider planting herbs such as basil, cilantro and parsley.
  • If you have a good-sized garden area and your family wants to try new fruits and vegetables, you may consider tomatoes, squash, corn, kale, green beans, carrots or cucumbers.

Don’t forget about flowers! They add color to your garden. Plus, some flowers keep bugs away.

herbs and flowers

You may want to plant flowers, as well as fruit, herbs and vegetables, to your garden.

If this is your first time gardening, take a trip to your local library or bookstore, and get age-appropriate gardening books to look at with your family. This is an excellent way to get everyone excited about gardening, as well as a means of helping you decide what to plant. You can also do some gardening research online.

gardening books

Do gardening research with your family before you start your garden.

Another option: Take a family field trip to your local farmers’ market, plant nursery or home improvement store. These places have experts who can guide you, answer your questions and suggest appropriate plants (some can be poisonous), given your taste and space.

After you choose what to plant, decide whether you want to start your garden with seeds, seedlings or starter plants. Your local gardening experts can give you advice on that, as well.

selecting plants

There are lots of garden experts ready to offer tips for your family garden.

Once you make all of the important decisions—as a family, of course—you’re ready to embark on your fun family gardening adventure!

You Will Need

  • 2 egg cartons (cardboard, plastic or Styrofoam)
  • 5-10 eggshells, washed and dried (depends on number of seeds available)
  • Thin nail
  • Potting soil
  • Spoon
  • Scissors
  • Seeds and/or seedlings
  • Spray bottle
  • Water source for watering, cleaning up and making mud puddles (after gardening, of course!)
  • Soil-filled garden box, garden container(s) or prepared in-ground garden area that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day
  • Camera (capture before and after photos)
  • Lots of patience (remind the kids they will need to tend to the plants daily)

    gardening supplies

    Gather your supplies, then you’re ready to start your family garden.

Preparation Time

1-3 hours, depending on how long it takes your family to:

  • Decide what to plant
  • Shop for your seeds/seedlings, potting soil, garden containers, etc.
  • Prepare your garden area or containers

Activity Time

30 minutes to 1 hour for the initial planting


Your patio or yard

Here are three methods you can use to start your family garden.

The first two are “eggcellent” options—using eggshells or cartons to grow seedlings from seeds. The third can be used for seeds or seedlings.

#1: Grow “Egglings”

Egglings are an easy, low-maintenance way to grow seeds into seedlings and prepare them for planting.

Use eggshells for this method of starting your garden from seeds.

You will need to collect eggshells in advance and ensure they are carefully washed and dried before you use them. If you are careful with your egg cracking, you can use two nearly equal halves from each eggshell. Note: If you’re concerned about salmonella, you can place your eggshells in a pot and boil them for a few minutes.

Remove the top of one of the egg cartons with scissors and place an empty eggshell in each cup. Pierce each eggshell bottom with a nail for drainage and then have your kids help you fill them with potting soil.

pierced eggs with soil

Pierce the bottom of each eggshell and fill with potting soil.

Following the seed package instructions, place the appropriate number of seeds into each eggshell and cover them with soil. Moisten the soil with a spray bottle filled with water. Place the egg carton in a sunlit area.

moisten soil

After adding the seeds, moisten the soil.

Since this is a family adventure, you can give each kid different seeds to be in charge of or you can work on all of the seeds together.

CAUTION: If birds like to visit your garden area, be sure to cover your egg carton to protect the egglings.

When the seedlings are ready to be transplanted into the garden or container, place the eggling directly into the garden soil.

Definition of biodegradable: If something is biodegradable, it can decompose naturally. When you’re out camping, you shouldn’t leave anything behind and certainly nothing that isn’t biodegradable. A plastic bottle is the antithesis of biodegradable — it will be there forever.

Adjective: capable of being decomposed by e.g. bacteria

The eggshells are biodegradable and safe for planting. In fact, the calcium found in eggshells is known to be good for the soil.

#2: Start Egg Carton Planters

You can also start your seedlings using a cardboard egg carton. This method is very similar to the one noted above.

Remove the top of a clean cardboard egg carton and pierce each “egg cup” to create a drainage hole. Fill each egg cup with soil and add the appropriate number of seeds, following the instructions on the seed package. Again, this is an easy step for your kids to do.

Once the seedlings are ready, use scissors to separate each egg cup. Place them directly into the garden or container.


When your seedlings are ready, separate each eggcup, so you can plant them separately.

Just like the eggshells, the cardboard is biodegradable and will break down as the plant continues to grow. Note: The amount of time it takes for cardboard to biodegrade is relatively short in comparison to other forms of trash. It takes cardboard only 4 weeks to degrade. However, a plastic water bottle will be around for eternity. (Source: www.greenecoservices.com)

#3: Plant Seeds or Seedlings

If want your garden to start quickly, or wish to employ a couple of methods at the same time, consider purchasing seedlings or starter plants from your local plant nursery or home improvement store.

seedling plant

Give your garden a jump start by planting seedlings or starter plants.

You can also purchase seeds and place them directly into the garden soil. Just plant them according to the package instructions.

placing seeds

Seeds can also grow directly in the soil.

If you decide to plant seeds directly in the soil, be sure to mark their location for watering purposes. So you don’t mix up the seedlings, work with your kids to create, decorate and place labels in your garden.

making labels

Label your plants, so you don’t mix them up.

Remember, when it comes to watering, less is more! But be careful your garden doesn’t get too dry.

Gardening Resources

If you’re feeling a little intimidated by the thought of gardening, don’t worry! Gardening is very forgiving and there are countless online resources available to help you prepare and nurture your curiosity.

A garden is a fun family project you can work on all spring and summer long… and enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor. Start your seeds or seedlings, plant them together and care for them as a family.

Some Final Thoughts

Hopefully, these three easy gardening starter ideas have inspired you to garden with your family this spring. Keep in mind there are countless ways to get started. In fact, you can also grow your seedlings indoors in plastic cups (recycled yogurt containers are terrific!). The key is to have fun and work together through all of the stages of your family garden!

What do you think? Will you start a garden with your family this spring? Tell us about your favorite gardening tips and stories. Be sure to share photos with us, too!

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About the Author, Heide Estrada

Heide Estrada loves to create family memories. When not working, you will find her photographing her children, trying new recipes, planning family trips or browsing Pinterest for her next project. Other posts by »

  • http://www.mykidsadventures.com/ Jennifer Ballard

    Thanks, Heide! Last time we planted seeds, the critters got them all. We’ll have to try planting some in egg shells or cartons first.

  • Amanda Shaw

    I like the idea of planting flowers, too. Then, after you harvest your yummy veggies, you can set your table with some beautiful flowers!

  • Heide Estrada

    Yes, you have to keep an eye out for critters! The first time we did egglings, the birds got to them the very next morning. The kids were so sad, but we learned from that experience and protected our second batch. :-)

  • Heide Estrada

    Yes, Amanda, adding flowers to the garden is great. We included flowers in our garden box last year and it’s been wonderful to see them grow along with our fruits and veggies. My kids really enjoy watching the bees and hummingbirds, who visit the flowers.

  • http://www.mykidsadventures.com/ KJ Ammerman

    This gets me so excited to start my garden with my kids this year! I have to say that last year we started seed in the egg shells and started them inside. I forgot to “harden off” the starts/baby plants and the all died within a week of being outside. Oops! This year we’ll do better :)

  • Heide Estrada

    KJ, I’m so glad to hear you’ve done “egglings” before and that the article got you excited to start your garden. I’d love to see photos!

  • Tamara Dennis

    My son and I along with his grandparents planted indoor containers (recycled of course) with seeds just yesterday. We have done a garden the past two years, but planted seeds and seedlings directly in the garden. They grew well, but thought we would try to get an early start! I have no idea what it means to “harden off” the starts. Could you explain so we may be successful please??

  • http://www.fineartmom.com/ Crystal Foth

    Sounds like so much fun! I’d love to brighten up our outside with some flowers too. Love these way of starting them off first!

  • Heide Estrada

    Glad to hear you enjoyed the article, Crystal! We’d love to see photos of your flower seedings. :-)

  • Tamara Dennis

    Thank you both for the links! I would have missed this important step for sure had I not read your article. We are looking forward to a fun filled summer tending our garden :)

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